Thursday, March 25, 2010

Framing for a Show

My friend Peter convinced me to submit six collages for an Art Group show at the North Yarmouth Academy in Maine. It will be held in April in their Curtis Gallery. I had a framing marathon the day before yesterday. Peter picked up 12 frames for me and then went with me to the hardware store where I had 12 pieces of glass cut to fit them. I was up until midnight to finish.

I'm so pleased with the results. 12 pieces are now out of the flat files and on the wall!

I moved Blanche Big in from the stone porch a few days ago in case the ceiling there decided to leak with all the rain we had. Now she has some company!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Golden Game and The Secret Art of Alchemy

I mentioned in an earlier post about Balthus a book written about him by his son, Stanislas Klossowski de Rola. I was reminded of two excellent books on the symbols of alchemy which he also wrote. My favorite is The Golden Game: Alchemical Engravings of the Seventeenth Century; With 533 Illustrations (Thames & Hudson, 1997). This book presents a comprehensive selection of the finest engraved alchemical emblems of the seventeenth century, brought together for the first time. The book includes black and white reproductions of engravings from 38 books (each a separate chapter) with commentary, a select bibliography and an index.

The second book, Alchemy: The Secret Art (NY: Bounty/Crown, 1973) contains 193 illustrations, 33 in full color. In it the author states:
Alchemy is a rainbow bridging the chasm between the earthly and heavenly planes, between matter and spirit. Like the rainbow, it may appear within reach, only to recede if one chases it merely to find a pot of gold.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

World's Worship Part III.

Is that a chip on your shoulder, or are you just glad to see me?

World's Worship Part II.

Above are some illustrations that caught my eye.

World's Worship Part I.

I first heard about this marvelous 1901 book by Frank S. Dobbins on eBay where someone is offering a recently re-bound copy for 149.99 "Buy It Now." Lucky for me I was able to obtain one with the amazing original cover shown above for less than $8.00 including the shipping!

Back then they weren't afraid to waste a little ink on a descriptive title. Story of the World's Worship: A Complete, Graphic and Comparative History of the Many Strange Beliefs, Superstitious Practices, Domestic Peculiarities, Sacred Writings, Systems of Philosophy, Legends and Traditions, Customs and Habits of Mankind Throughout the World. Ancient and Modern. The Whole Profusely Illustrated from Authentic and Trustworthy Sources. In total, 785 pages including a six-page list of illustrations and an index. Dobbins shares his trustworthy sources in the preface:
Among those whose works the author has consulted are, Max Muller and Hardwicke on Comparative Mythology; Wilkinson on the Ancient Egyptians; Lenormant on Assyria and Babylon; Haug on the Parsees; Monier Williams on Hinduism; Rhys-Davids, and Barthelemy St. Hilaire on Buddhism, and Edward Arnold's paraphrase of Buddha's life in his "Light of Asia;" Humboldt on Central America; Schoolcraft on the American Indians; Wyatt Gill and Lord Grey on the PacificIslands; Legge, Edkins and S. Wells Williams on the Chinese; Griffis and Sir Edward Reed on Japan; and Stanley and Livingstone on Africa. Beside these he has derived great help from "The Tour of the World with General Grant," and Dr. H. M. Field's "From Egypt to Japan."
In case you might begin to question the choice of the overtly Christian image on the cover to represent such a world-wide view, the author comes clean regarding his intentions:
Let it be remembered that this is a pioneer work. The author has had to blaze his pathway through a trackless forest. He has had no guide. He sincerely hopes that by its perusal his readers will be led to an increased appreciation of the infinite superiority of Christianity to all other religions; and that they may find a deepened interest in the welfare of the heathen world.
I'm going to enjoy looking through this book closely. But first I'm taking a quick overview to select some of my immediate favorites among numerous incredible images. I even found a fern pressed between the pages by a previous owner:

White Boxes on Black - Finished

11.5 x14 inches. Epson printed elements and Thai Unryu over white acrylic paint on black Caslon Mi-Teintes paper. I guess I should call this one done. I have my name on it so I should leave it alone now and start working on something else. There's still something that bothers me about it, aside from the fact that I don't have a black mat to fit it. I had to scan it in two sections.

I think I like either of the two sections better than the whole. If I could find a smaller mat to fit a section, I could crop it but the voice says: "Anita, let it be and move on!"

The elements and unryu have been adhered with Golden's gloss medium. I have left most of the surface uncoated. This is a bit of a departure from my usual technique of complete coverage. I was going to coat both sides of the paper completely and then mount the whole thing to a gessoed board but I changed my mind.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

White Boxes on Black

This piece of charcoal paper with white acrylic boxes on it has been just waiting for something to happen to it and finally something has. Once the pink and yellow uryu chips are adhered the detail behind them will show through.

Digital Dice Quilt

Digital Flat Quilt

Flat Quilt

A little 3x4.5 inch test piece. Epson printed elements with Thai Unryu on 140# watercolor paper.

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Work - Square Format

I'm in the process of creating a series of collages all at once. Usually my series do not run concurrently. I complete one and then begin another at a later date. But I'm trying something bold. I have a 20x20 and five 12x12's which will have one layer in common. So far I intend to make four of the 12x12's closely related so they can be displayed as a "block of four."

Studio View: Alexander Calder

I love to get a peek at famous artists' studios. I always hope to learn something by studying the details revealed in a photograph.

Lately I have been taken by the blog of Nick Heywood. Maybe it's got something to do with his initials (N.H.) displayed woven into the fabric of his masthead that make me feel at home. His post on the studio of Alexander Calder has some fabulous photos. So wonderfully kind of Nick to share them!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

History Repeats Itself

It's been said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Well, I just discovered an interesting piece of New Hampshire history that might have saved me untold amounts of grief had I learned it a dozen years earlier.

Wouldn't you know that the state of New Hampshire's first official bamboozler was named Waldron. I learned about it from a very interesting book published in 1917 written by Clifton Johnson (1865-1940) titled New England: A Human Interest Geographical Reader. I first saw it on the Internet Archive where you can read the whole text.

Johnson's lively account of the early history of the Dover area is interesting in particular due to his sympathetic description of the plight of the Indians. (Click on any page to enlarge).

"For a long time the leading man of the province was Richard Waldron of Dover, and he was at length made sergeant-major of its military forces. He was largely engaged in trading with the Indians, and though Puritan in his religion, cheated them at every opportunity. It is said that he did not cross out their accounts when they paid him, and that in buying beaver skins he would use his fist as a balancing weight against the skins put on the opposite side of the scales and claim it weighed a pound."

"Another charge against Major Waldron was that he had gone to some of the Indians when they were at peace with the English and taken away their guns, for lack of which several of them starved to death. It was also asserted that he gave drink to certain Indians, and when they were drunk killed them."

On Waldron's orders two hundred Indians were carried off to Boston where several were executed. The others were sold into slavery. Some twelve years later Indian warriors attacked Waldron while asleep at home. Though eighty years of age he put up a fight. One of the warriors stunned him with the blow of a tomahawk. Then they seized him, put his arm-chair on the dining-room table and bound him in it. They smote Waldron with their knives saying with each stroke, "I cross out my account !"

Samuel C. Stevens version of the incident related in his Sketch of Dover, N.H. (1833) is even more graphic. You can read the text on the site of the Dover Public Library.

I'd love to visit the Clifton Johnson archives out in Amherst, Massachusetts. Johnson was a self-styled folklorist, an illustrator, photographer, author, and editor who wrote over 125 books.
My copy of Johnson's New England contained some aged four-leaf lucky clovers pressed between the pages.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Balthus: It's in the Details

I've recently been reminded of the painter Balthus, one of my favorite enigmatic artists. I have two books on Balthus. One was written by his son, Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, and the other (above) by Jean Leymarie . But I've not paid attention to them for a while.

I happened upon some photographs of Balthus taken in 1956 at the blog of Nick Heyward that are absolutely riveting. From what I understand, Balthus avoided the camera, so these views with their dark moody blues are perhaps rare as well. I've kept a postcard of Jeune Fille a la Fenetre - Girl at the Window (1955) for quite some time. It was exciting to see the photograph of the model in the actual setting as well as other views of the interior spaces of the Chateau de Chassy where Balthus lived and painted .

Nick Heyward's post crystalized my understanding of what exactly it is that keeps drawing me back to these paintings. They are strange, to be sure. . . a plus in my book. Their surreal settings make me feel a bit uneasy. . . I like for a painting to do that. But what I connect to is Balthus' use of pattern. I spent some time looking at the paintings with a fresh eye and noticed these marvelous details:

The orange shoes:

The plaid skirt:

The patterned drapes and carpets:

And this detail from The Turkish Room, so profusely ornamented that it takes my breath away:

Collage-wise I would say that I feel a Balthus Tribute coming on.

Balthus influenced two artists that I have admired: Will Barnet (earlier post here), and photographer Duane Michaels. He also influenced Eli Levin (the work brings George Tooker strongly to mind), and Elena Zolotnitsky.